What defines the school of the future?

What should the “school of the future” look like in Wachtberg and North Rhine-Westphalia? This was the subject of a public discussion by the SPD in Wachtberg on Tuesday 15 March in the hall of the Henseler Hof in Niederbachem. “This is our first political event in attendance after two years of Corona abstinence and we are delighted with the good response,” said the president of the local association Paul Lägel in his welcome speech. 33 citizens were present, including parents, teachers and local politicians. And twelve participants were connected to the online broadcast. “We also offer this discussion as an online event for pandemic reasons. Above all, however, we see it as an offer to young families who are unable to reconcile the evening attendance of classic political events with childcare. Because we need greater compatibility between family and politics, especially when it comes to issues such as education or climate protection. We would like to take this into account with the online broadcast, “explained moderator Dr. Charlotte Echterhoff, mother of two school-age children and candidate for the state parliament of the Wachtberg SPD.

Jochen Ott, the deputy leader of the NRW-SPD parliamentary group and their spokesperson for education policy, had traveled from Düsseldorf. In his speech he explained that school politics has not been a winning theme in state politics for a long time, not even in the SPD. Especially during the pandemic of the past two years, no one in the state government has taken responsibility. In recent days it has become evident that our most important capital is not raw materials, but knowledge and the ability to innovate. And for this you need a first-rate education system. This does not mean, however, that abbitur and a course of study must be the only objective of a qualification. Because a master craftsman can earn much more in his life than a business administration graduate. Businesses in Germany are fighting for the best students, and according to Ott, our education system must relieve parents of the pressure that only a high school diploma with honors guarantees a good life and a good job.

Many parents agreed in the discussion. A mother of three explained that in our performance-oriented society, children no longer have enough freedom for creative learning throughout their school careers. “The focus is primarily on what children can’t do instead of focusing on their potential.” And the pressure on parents to send their children from Wachtberg to a high school in Bonn is immense.

Linn Henkel, who left elementary school in Villip a few years ago to attend a high school in Bonn, could only agree. “Instead of just looking at grades, students should be better supported individually,” she said.

Carsten Kroppach, father of a third-grade child in a primary school in Wachtberg and himself a teacher at the integrated comprehensive school in Bonn-Beuel, thinks so too. Above all, he sees a problem in the lack of permeability of the education system. “The decision on what kind of school to take at the end of the third school year is too early,” says Kroppach. This can be seen in the many high school students who depend on mentoring from an early age. On the other hand, many children who come to a middle school with a recommendation from a Hauptschule or Realschule then come to the Gymnasium. Here one should look at the educational systems in Scandinavia, where not the initial comparison of performance but the development of personality is at the fore.

The discussion on expanding the range of secondary school types in Wachtberg, for example in the form of a comprehensive school foreseen by the SPD in its electoral program, also took up a lot of space. Jutta Danylow, spokesperson for school policies for the SPD parliamentary group in Wachtberg, described the educational landscape in Wachtberg with five primary schools and the Hans Dietrich Genscher secondary school, which offers a wide range of degree options. Currently, around two thirds of primary school students attend a Bonn primary school after fourth grade, 12% remain at the Hauptschule and the rest are split between the Realschule and Bonn general schools. As everywhere in Germany, the desire of parents for a high school diploma is also visible in Wachtberg.

This also means a form of “brain drain” for the community, when even older pupils turn to Bonn’s circles of friends in their spare time. This is not just a deep cut in the daily lives of affected children and young people who must leave Wachtberg at the age of ten, as Linn Henkel described from her own experience. It is also a negative localization factor for the long-term community if Wachtberg does not have its own full range of options for secondary education.

For Jochen Ott (SPD), the three-pillar model with Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium is a model of the past. “The goal must be a permeable education system that does not make the title dependent on the social background of the pupils. The economization of the education system must end “, says Ott. And he agrees with Jutta Danylow on the urgent need to solve the problem of the shortage of teachers, which in the coming years will be particularly dramatic in primary schools. SPD, this also includes an equal starting salary for teaching in primary schools as compared to other types of schools.

From his point of view, Wachtberg would be an ideal place for a high quality global school thanks to the good social situation. But you shouldn’t be fighting school wars about it, but working together across party lines and appearing alongside school authorities and neighboring municipalities.

After two hours of discussion, moderator Dr. Charlotte Echterhoff has a positive conclusion: “Over the past two years, the topic of education and the situation in schools has repeatedly made negative news, especially against the backdrop of the corona pandemic. the learning culture, which for years has been based only on “measuring and comparing”, must be put to the test. It was nice to finally be able to talk again about the educational policy choices for the “school of the future”. Apparently, this includes modalities for equal opportunities through longer joint learning, school resources and equipment, a shortage of teachers or inadequate salaries, especially for primary school staff, “summarized Echterhoff.

Press release

SPD Wachtberg

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